Earlier today, the world was pleasantly surprised when it was revealed that Star Trek Beyond would officially be making Hikaru Sulu gay in the new film, which will feature one scene of the character (played by John Cho) with a male partner and their child. There were, of course, some grumblings from upset fans about the news, but it seemed like, for once, a majority of the fandom was happy in unison, to welcome an officially LGBT character into the Trek franchise.
The reveal was said to be a nod to George Takei as well, the original actor to play Sulu who is also gay in real life, that Simon Pegg, one of the film’s co-writers thought of while creating the story for the movie. It looks like Takei may not be as happy about the news though as some of us may have expected.
While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Takei revealed that while he’s happy to see a gay character in the Trek franchise, he thinks that making Sulu gay is a twisting of creator Gene Roddenberry’s original vision:
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character. Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
When Cho originally called him to tell him the news, Takei said he immediately expressed his doubts about the decision:
“I told him, ‘Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted.’”
Now, Takei’s timeline doesn’t really work here, since this is of course taking place in the alternate films, and it’s already been included in the announcement that Sulu being gay isn’t a secret, and is seen as “not a big deal” to the rest of the film’s characters and his fellow crew members. Though, he may just be referring to how long Sulu has been in the public consciousness, that having him be revealed as gay may feel like he’s coming out of the closet, though I’d like to imagine audiences are smarter than that.
The actor went on to reveal that he told Justin Lin the same thing over the phone as well, saying that the best way for the film to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek would be to introduce a new character that was gay, something that after his conversation with Lin, he was left ““feeling that that was going to happen.” A thought that was only reinforced in Takei’s mind, when he received a letter from Simon Pegg praising Takei for his advocacy towards the LGBT movement.
Takei was apparently disappointed though, when he learned that the decision was still happening:
“I really tried to work with these people when at long last the issue of gay equality was going to be addressed. I thought after that conversation with Justin that was going to happen. Months later, when I got that email from Simon Pegg, I was kind of confused. He thinks I’m a great guy? Wonderful. But what was the point of that letter? I interpreted that as my words having been heard.”
Honestly, this might not seem as weird (it’s still a strange story nonetheless) if the original announcement hadn’t emphasized so heavily that it was a nod towards Takei and his work in the Star Trek world over the years. For him to come out just a few hours after the announcement and voice his disappointment towards it, is a bit of a head scratcher, to say the least. Especially since, as Takei says here, they were already aware of his misgivings about the idea.
Star Trek Beyond is set to hit theatres on July 22nd.
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